Blogs on Formative Assessment

Blogs on Formative AssessmentRSS
Andrew MillerMarch 7, 2013

A recent blog by Grant Wiggins affirmed what I have long believed about creativity: it is a 21st-century skill we can teach and assess. Creativity fosters deeper learning, builds confidence and creates a student ready for college and career.

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Bob LenzDecember 20, 2012

In my last post, I discussed how schools and systems can use a different and more powerful type of accountability to drive intrinsic motivation for high performance by students and teachers. (This is opposed to an accountability system of rewards and punishment.) By making student work and teacher practice public and transparent, we can improve student learning faster and with more sustainability. Also in that post, I highlighted public exhibitions of work and instructional rounds as two "accountability" tools used by Envision Schools.

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Shawn CornallyDecember 20, 2012

In a conversation with a veteran educator -- a man with years of experience teaching English and acting as a headmaster -- I was confronted with a prejudice so ingrained in my teaching that I was almost embarrassed to admit it.

He said, "You know, when I ask a student to write a paper and turn it in to me, that's ridiculous; I'm the worst audience they could have."

I was intrigued.

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Rebecca AlberNovember 8, 2012

Updated 10/2013

When we think about all the different ways we check for understanding in the classroom, a go-to strategy for many teachers has always been the exit slip or exit ticket. For this strategy, students write at the conclusion of learning, sometimes on a half-sheet of paper with sentence starters provided. It's then collected by the teacher. Why a favorite? Being that they come at the end of a lesson, unit, or segment of study, exit slips give teachers a snapshot of the overall student learning.

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Mary Beth HertzSeptember 13, 2012

One of the most powerful moments in my teaching journey was the summer I immersed myself in feedback and checking for understanding. It forced me to ask myself what and if my students were actually learning. I learned the importance of the language I used. I also learned effective ways to track student progress toward learning goals that will inform the feedback I give students. While my effectiveness as a teacher has grown exponentially, I still have a lot to learn. Since I teach in a lab, I also have both the challenge and the perk of most student work being completed on the computer. These are some of my experiences, ideas and resources for using technology to provide meaningful feedback to students -- and making the process more streamlined for everyone.

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Terry HeickMay 10, 2012

Assessing understanding might be the most complex task an educator or academic institution is tasked with. Unfortunately, professional development gives a lower level of attention to developing quality assessments, training that is rarely commensurate with this complexity. The challenge of assessment is no less than figuring out what a learner knows, and where he or she needs to go next.

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Mark PhillipsMarch 20, 2012

Some of you may remember the scene in The Dead Poets Society in which Robin Williams' Mr. Keating mocks the approach to poetry of Dr. J. Evans Pritchard. In a nutshell, Pritchard has a method for mathematically calculating the measure of a poem's greatness. "If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness." Keating has students rip the pages out of their books, sardonically exclaiming, " . . . we're not laying pipe, we're talking about poetry . . . I like Byron, I give him a 42 . . . "

Some of you may remember the scene in The Dead Poets Society in which Robin Williams' Mr. Keating mocks the approach to poetry of Dr. J. Evans Pritchard. In a nutshell, Pritchard has a method for mathematically calculating the measure of a poem's greatness. "If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness." Keating has students rip the pages out of their books, sardonically exclaiming, " . . . we're not laying pipe, we're talking about poetry . . . I like Byron, I give him a 42 . . . " Read More

Andrew MillerFebruary 8, 2012

Project-Based Learning (PBL) naturally lends itself to differentiated instruction. By design, it is student-centered, student-driven and gives space for teachers to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways. PBL can allow for effective differentiation in assessment as well as daily management and instruction. PBL experts will tell you this, but I often hear teachers ask for real examples, specifics to help them contextualize what it "looks like" in the classroom. In fact, the inspiration for this blog came specifically from requests on Twitter! We all need to try out specific ideas and strategies to get our brains working in a different context. Here are some specific differentiation strategies to use during a PBL project.

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Andrew MillerJanuary 18, 2012

Rubrics are a beast. Grrrrrrr! They are time-consuming to construct, challenging to write and sometimes hard to use effectively. They are everywhere. There are rubrics all over the web, plus tools to create them, and as educators, it can overwhelm us. Rubrics are driven by reforms, from standards-based grading to assessment for learning. With so many competing purposes, it only makes sense that rubrics remain a beast to create and to use. Here are some (only some) tips for designing and using effective rubrics. Regardless of the reforms and structures you have in place, these can be used by all educators.

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Eric BrunsellDecember 21, 2011

During my first year of teaching, I assigned students homework over the holidays. The week before we left for break, I handed out a packet on thermodynamics. It was due three weeks later. Some of my students left the room singing, "You're a mean one, Mr. B."

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